Photo by the Author

Last week, Puget Sound Regional Council released the draft of their 2012 Land Use Forecast. It contains predictions of population, household, and employment growth up to 2040 across the Central Puget Sound region. These numbers are important, because they have implications for transportation investments and other resource allocations. In addition to direct funding from PSRC, cities and neighborhoods that are growing rapidly are more likely to be the focus of city investments in infrastructure, including new sidewalks and parks.

While there is a lot of data to dig through in the report, I immediately gravitated to the forecast for my neighborhood, Lake City. So what will Lake City look like in 30 years? According to the forecast, the Lake City area (which follows census tract boundaries, rather than neighborhood boundaries) will have 1,466 new housing units and 8,254 new people, which is a population growth rate of 30%. The employment numbers are even more impressive. Lake City will be supporting 5,237 new jobs in 2040 – that’s 85% growth!

If these numbers are true, one thing seems pretty certain: All of these residents and employees will require more space, which means that less space will be available for huge parking lots and drive-throughs. Lake City’s auto-centric development patterns are a thing of the past.

Most Seattlites are familiar with Lake City’s ‘colorful’ reputation. My neighborhood is known for its car dealerships, not for supporting non-automotive transit modes. The recent fight over the 125th St road diet showed that some of these stereotypes are pretty accurate. However, as gas prices increase and AAA says the cost of owning a car is hitting nearly $9,000 a year, some newcomers to the area are deciding that owning a car is more hassle than it is worth.

Car free living in Lake City is really not that much of a stretch. A trip to downtown via the 522 only takes a half hour – about the same as a Link train from Rainier Beach. And while that bus trip is a bit of a bumpier ride, there are a lot more places you can go when you come home in the evening — the Walkscore at the Rainer Beach station is only 58. The Walkscore at 125th and Lake City Way, at 94, rivals parts of Cap Hill and the U District. Plus, that 85% employment growth is concentrated in retail and services, which means even more restaurants, pubs, and small shops are on their way.

The real reason I live here, as you might expect, is that Lake City is affordable. In fact, it is one of very few walkable neighborhoods that are affordable to working families. To illustrate this, I did a little snooping on Craigslist. Over the last three weeks, I looked for two bedroom apartments for under $900 with a Walkscore of at least 85.  I found a couple of odd-balls, like the 525 square foot basement unit in Queen Anne (not sure how you cram two bedrooms into 525 sq ft), or the place in the U District that has only bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom with no living room. Throwing these out, the only two neighborhoods in Seattle with multiple apartment units available that met my criteria are Lake City and the Aurora corridor. Aurora, of course, has some reputation problems of its own. I lived at 80th and Aurora for a year, and I’ve found Lake City to be a much more livable neighborhood. It was also quite a relief to not have to rely so much on the 358, with its notorious bunching issues (I’ve witnessed up to four buses in the span of five minutes) and safety concerns. Plus the Lake City giraffe is way cooler than the Aurora Rents elephant!

Even with a high Walkscore, going completely car free is difficult for many families, including my own. But it’s nice to know that as the city grows and owning a car becomes more expensive, working families here in Lake City do have the choice of downsizing to one car or of ditching the car altogether.

The author is a graduate planning student at UW, a planning intern at the City of Tukwila, and a Lake City resident.

76 Replies to “Carfree Living – in Lake City?”

  1. 2bd for $900 is an amazing deal in Seattle. When I lived at the north end of the U-District near Ravenna/Roosevelt a few years ago, we paid $1300/mo for a 2bd that was about 900 sq ft (though it also had a yard, it was a converted house). Also keep in mind newer developments will pretty much always have higher rents, at least for the first 10 years or so.

    Another note, zipcar really makes it easy to not own a car. Unfortunately doesn’t look like they have any cars in Lake City, in the U-District it was really nice.

    1. Anyone searching for a walkable, non-car-dependent place to live should be aware of Walk Score Apartments and Rentals, which lets you search not only by Walk Score but also by neighborhood(s) and by commute time, even to multiple destinations and modes (walking, biking, transit, driving) anywhere in the U.S. There are nifty animations showing where you can get to in X minutes via Y mode. It’s a lot of fun to explore and play with, and a genuinely useful tool.

      Disclaimer: While I have no business interest in it, I did help build it :) The transit and drive times are based on heuristics I’m not prepared to explain. Under the “Gotta Have” tab you can enable a walkability heat map overlay, on which Lake City shows up as an island of green in far NE Seattle.

      1. That walkscore widget is good, but not as good as you would think, since it’s relying on the Craigslist postings to have properly formatted addresses. There’s some tweaking to be done to make out-of-town apartments stop popping up on local maps in semi-random places.

        I used it for a while and then went back to manually mapping apartment listings. I mostly used it to get the circles – that and the frequent transit map.

    2. You can find a quite a few pretty decent $900/mo 2bd, especially if you’re willing to pay W/S/G separately. Go much below that, and the applications get super competitive.

  2. I’m surprised by the high Walk scores for Lake City. Last time I was out there, sidewalk were scarce off of the main streets (Lake City Way, 125th, 35th). Lots of older multi-family buildings on streets with no sidewalks at all. Some newer projects with sidewalks in front of the building but connected to nothing. If this environment has changed fundamentally, please let us know.

    1. Walkscore doesn’t take sidewalks into account. It only measures access to services, not the actual quality of walking.

      1. Right Adam. Although the “Street Smart” Walkscore takes some design elements into consideration, I don’t think there is any national database of which streets have sidewalks and which don’t. I find the Walkscore methodology (available on their website) to be interesting — they draw pretty heavily on walkability research done by Ann Moudon, who teaches in my department at the UW.

      2. So Walkability doesn’t really translate into Ability to Walk?

        Thanks for that useful information. Now I know to ignore those “data” in the future.

      3. Depends on the area; sidewalk free roads can be okay for pedestrians, especially if the road is narrow, windy, offers on-street parking, and is not a through route. Fairview Ave E in Eastlake is a good example of all of the above, and is fine for walking. Cars there rarely exceed bicycle speeds, and pedestrians are common. Most any other American road… yeah, no. Too wide, too fast, too many cars.

      4. At the time I was exploring Lake City, I was looking for a place for my elderly mother to live, and no, she wasn’t going to live in a place where she had to walk in the street to get anywhere on foot. Most of the side streets close to Lake City Way had no sidewalks. And given their proximity to major arterial streets, traffic was problematic even for the young and nimble.

      5. Exactly. Well put. Walkscore is just one of the things to keep in mind when assessing a neighborhood. Even in neighborhoods that have sidewalks, it doesn’t assess the quality of the walking. For example, the Northgate area is not very pleasant, but it scores as well as the U-District (which is way more fun to walk through). As for Lake City, at least the main drag (the part that has the high walkscore) is much nicer than it used to be (and nicer than Northgate, in my opinion). Side streets that connect Lake City Way to the library aren’t bad either (all sidewalks, if I’m not mistaken). Hopefully as density increases we will get more sidewalks (several were added in the nearby neighborhood of Pinehurst a couple years ago).

    2. “So Walkability doesn’t really translate into Ability to Walk?”

      Obviously it’s easier with sidewalks, particularly if you have mobility issues, but I grew up near Nathan Hale HS (so, I guess you could call it part of greater Lake City) where most streets have no sidewalks, and walked around a lot as a kid. The lack of sidewalks was no problem.

      The main problem was not lack of sidewalks, it was a lack of anywhere to walk TO in an essentially suburban environment. From where I grew up, around 40th and 110th, it was a very long haul to downtown Lake City, with a big hill to boot. The only walkable destinations at the time that I generally walked to besides the schools were the Stop and Go convenience store (located at 35th and 110th back then) and, further away, the IGA on Sandpoint Way.

      Anyway, the walkscore at 125th and Lake City Way is one thing. The walkability of most of greater Lake City, toward the lake itself, is pretty awful, sidewalks or no. The buses in that area were every 30 minutes when I lived there, which didn’t help.

      1. Oh, and I should add that “toward the lake” did not necessarily mean “hoity-toity rich folks with a view of the water. Plenty of lower-middle-class folks lived in the area, and probably still do.

  3. Lake City Way is one of the few places you can use an ST Express bus for a milk run.

  4. Something with those numbers looks odd. Assuming all the new residents live in new housing you get an average household size of 5.6 people per unit, double the average existing HH size. The increase in households also doesn’t correspond to the increase in housing units, with 2,378 new households but only 1,466 housing units. What am I missing?

    ( PDF page 73)

    1. I’m contacting the PRSC about similar issues. They predict Seattle will lose 11,410 housing units, yet gain 11,536 by 2020. I guess that’s why this is an early draft sent out for comments.

      1. Maybe they factor in tsunami modeling := The report for King County assumes that 70% of the population will be employed in 2040 vs 61% today. That would be good news for Social Securty but goes against all demographic trends which show a large increase in the percentage of retired people.

        the median age for Americans will increase to 38 in 2030, and that the
        percentage of people over age 65 will increase from 12.4% to 19.4%

      2. Actually, now I wonder if what’s happening is that the housing-unit numbers involve current building habits and don’t factor in any sort of accomodation for the increased population, so the PSRC’s response would basically be, “Well, you’d better start building more units than you’re currently tracking for then.” The PSRC can’t predict what exact cultural shifts will go down in the coming decades, in other words.

    2. It’s wacked for sure. Average household size for Lake City according to the report is 2.17, a slight decrease from 2000 and a little more than the average for Seattle which according to the US Census QuickFacts is 2.04. That all sounds perfectly believeable. An 8,254 increase in population is a little harder to believe. A steady increase matching the rate from 2000 would net 5,432. More likely the growth rate will slow as the area is built out. If the new housing units are close to reality that would mean 3,181 people assuming people per unit won’t decrease.

      The numbers for Bellevue don’t jive with the 2010 Census. The report has Bellevues population at 113,650 where the Census pegs it at 122,363. The reports employment numbers for Bellevue add up to 125,055 but in the PSRC spreadsheets Andrew and I were discussing the number is 119,892. That’s a net gain of 3,914 jobs from 2009 vs a loss of 1,249. A 4.3% swing which I find hard to explain based on boundary areas because very few of the jobs in Bellevue are in outlying areas and their population numbers 7% below the 2010 Census. If they can’t get 2010 right, can’t even be consistent with their own numbers, how credible are the forcasts for 30 years in the future?

      1. Please e-mail the PRSC to let them know. This is a draft, meaning they can fix their model. These do seem like huge errors even for a draft.

      2. I pulled the numbers from the PSRC report without diving too deeply into them. I do know that the forecasts are derived from UrbanSim, an analytical model that looks at land use, property values, and several other variables at the parcel level. This results in a more sophisticated, and hopefully more accurate, prediction than you would get from a straight-line projection of current trends from the census.

        I have no idea why there is a discrepancy between forecasts for households vs. housing units — common sense says they should track very closely, unless a lot of housing units are currently vacant.

        I find the OFM estimates to be an interesting window into population trends since the census. Fun fact: as of last April, Kent had about 118,200 residents. Any more annexations, and they’ll be bigger than Bellevue.

      3. With respect to the employment numbers the intro states “Forecast employment data cannot be directly compared to other PSRC employment data [Covered Employment]… Between 85 and 90 percent of all jobs in the region are estimated to be included in the Covered Employment numbers.” However, based on their Covered Employment number of 119,892 you’d expect total employment in the range of 133,000 to 141,000. How they arrive at 125,000 is a mystery since that would mean Covered Employment in Bellevue accounts for 96% of all jobs. There’s a dearth of corporate executives, independent contractors and small buisness owners in Bellevue???

      4. I think I found Bellevue’s missing population. Take a look at the maps in the appendix (page numbered 173). Newcastle is HUGE! It swallowed up Newport Hills as well as part of Eastgate and goes all the way down to east Renton. Census population for Newcastle is 10,380; PSRC population is 65,238. I’d added up the FAZ groups but I still came out with the same numbers as the reports Large Area Summaries. It still doesn’t explain the difference in total employment vs covered employment being so far off from the normal 85-90%.

    3. Adam sez:
      “Something with those numbers looks odd. Assuming all the new residents live in new housing you get an average household size of 5.6 people per unit, double the average existing HH size.”

      Why would you assume that all the ‘new’ residents live in the ‘new’ housing units? Over 30 years, each housing unit would probably have four or more households living in it on average. The household size makes sense only over the aggregate.

      “The increase in households also doesn’t correspond to the increase in housing units, with 2,378 new households but only 1,466 housing units. What am I missing?”

      It looks like their model wants to get to 0% vacancy in 2040. In other words, any available unit will be used, but no more than that.

      1. Its not about “new” households as in people that haven’t lived there before, it’s about having additional households that are “new” in the sense that there are more than before. Unless there is a few thousand housing units that are me empty as of now, a new household should translate to a new housing unit.

  5. LC is one of the most developable areas in the city–the central neighborhood is flat and of decent size, there are no views of anything to block, there are community services within an easy walk (the library is nearly in the heart of the business district) and it already has decent bus service downtown on the 522 and to Northgate on the 75 and 41. I imagine during a decent part of the day the LC-N’gate service could be considered frequent, or close to it.

    If we could ever get this area up-zoned–i.e., zone the car lots for a higher and better use–this could be a great neighborhood. It is a natural stop for HCT from Seattle and the UW to Bothell; in fact, two stations were planned in this area on the 1968 Forward Thrust subway system.

    There is a wide mix of income diversity in the surrounding area; a lot of middle-class single family homes, some much higher-end stuff once you get to the hillcrest overlooking Lake Washington, and plenty of low income residences as well, with a pretty high percentage of rental property.

    I would love to see what this neighborhood could become with better land use planning. There is unlikely to be quite the NIMBY population in this area as in some others.

      1. On that last point, the NIMBY’s pretty much encompass most of the areas north of the ship canal with the exception of Lake City.

      2. And Bitter Lake, folks in our area have embraced the urban village plan. Because, pretty much anything is better than having an abandoned car dealership attracting hookers and drug dealers in your neighborhood. Not that the merchants association aren’t NIMBYs but the actual residents who have to clean up condoms from their yards are jazzed about development.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Scott. I don’t entirely agree that the problem here is zoning, however. The Lake City core is zoned NC-85, which allows for a lot more height and density than what we’ve got now. I would argue that the lack of new development in Lake City has a lot more to do with negative market perceptions than policy.

      1. That’s just the core, though, which is relatively tiny. A bit more is NC-65, as I recall, but that only goes as far south as 120th.

        I do agree with you about the market perceptions, though (I lived on the southern fringe of the community for most of my life and still own property there). It’s really quite convenient to both downtown and the UW, and I think that some thoughful development could really upgrade the area. Good 5-6 story massing along LCW from 115th to 145th would make the “speedway” feel more like a boulevard. (I’ve always thought that a few new highrises in the core, around a subway station, would be just about right!) :)

        Thanks for the thoughtful post. The area isn’t discussed much but is a natural density infill area for the city.

      2. What’s up with the recent development at the NW corner of 125th & Lake City being just one-story retail with half the lot taken up by surface parking in the back? That was a great opportunity for density wasted, despite decent zoning.

      3. Alex, I can speak to that one directly, as my former firm did studies for a 5+2 residential/retail building on that site. The city desperately wanted something like that built on that site, but the property owner adamantly did not. (The study was done so that the City felt the option was being looked at, while we all knew it would never get built.). Obviously, the owner did what he intended all along.

        This could probably have been avoided if the core were zoned higher height/density, as the developer would have left a ton of money on the table by building a strip mall. This was an opportunity wasted; OTOH, there are still a lot of other potential development sites in the area.

    2. Incorrect. Everyone is a NIMBY about something. Just last year there were quite a few news stories about Lake City residents being NIMBYS about the city possibly turning a fire station into a homeless shelter.

      1. The homeless shelter controversy was interesting, because the bulk of the opposition came from one senior apartment complex (though some business owners were concerned as well). There are NIMBYs everywhere, but maybe not quite so many “single-family only” folks here as elsewhere in the city.

    1. Yes, this is a really big deal for the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more details, but I hope I can make it to the Lake City Community Council Meeting next week.

    2. Thanks, Renee–I hadn’t heard of this meeting. Redevelopment of auto row has been a long time coming and I hope that there are some good plans for that mile or so of paved lots. I hope I can make it to the meeting–there is a lot of potential there.

  6. I wonder how the overall report is modelling Seattle’s growth. Reaching ~700k in 8 years seems a bit ambitious given the current rate of construction which is both below 10k and includes buildings that won’t be all done in the same year. The past decade year to year population growth rates which were closer to 5k/year.


    1. Looking at page 10 of the Forecast Results PDF, most of their projected increase in Seattle’s population seems to come from an increase in household size, rather than an increase in the number of household. Going from 2010 to 2020, they foresee a 4% increase in the number of households (from 283,431 to 294,967) together with a 10% increase in average household size (from 2.06 to 2.27).

      Considering that average household size remained roughly constant from 2000 to 2010, while the number of households increased by about 9.6%, this seems like an a strange projection. I can imagine some models where this is to be expected- e.g. if there’s been a large increase in the number of people in their 20’s and 30’s who you anticipate will be having kids, but you don’t expect much more housing to be built for some reason. Strangely, the table anticipates Seattle losing about 11,000 housing units by 2020.

      I’ve only glanced at it though, and I’m not a planner or demographer, so maybe those projections are more reasonable than they seem.

      1. Again, I mostly just pulled the data from PSRC and didn’t spend much time analyzing it, but I do wonder, if this forecast is accurate, how much of the increase in household size might be due to “doubling up” as housing gets more expensive in the city.

      2. The problem with this assumption is that they paint a rosy picture of upper income households increasing. It also misses the demographic shift to an aging population. Another trend that I find puzzling is the huge loses in employment in the education sector. Maybe they foresee everyone getting rich, moving to communes and home schooling?

  7. It’s pretty awful for bikeability. Much of that is just the topology, but the narrow design of the brand new bridge on 15th NE is a knife in the heart of hopes for that route south. Lake City Way? Unbikeable.

    1. 35th NE isn’t bad, though, for an arterial, and if you cut over to 30th at 110th you can take that towards the U District as it turns into Ravenna and then 25th NE.

      A bigger issue is the extreme difficulty of access to the nearby Burke Gilman (due to topography), but if you REALLY know the neighborhood, from 35th you can take NE 105th east (then south) almost all the way to Mathews Beach, where you can reach the BGT. It’s flat and quiet. Sand Point Way is nearly as bad as LCW and should be avoided most of the time, IMHO.

      1. Ha, you just described what I used to do on a lot of summer days as a kid. Though, actually, I *did* usually ride my bike down Sandpoint from 110th to Matthews Beach to get on the trail! (I don’t know why I didn’t take a shorter route. I didn’t feel particularly unsafe riding on Sandpoint then, but I was 12 or 13 so maybe I was just clueless.) Then I would ride all the way to U Village or Gasworks or even up to Lake Forest Park mall to hang out. Ah, the 1970s, when parents let kids roam the city freely…)

        (When I was even younger there were still tracks there and we walked around on the railroad tracks sometimes.)

      2. That’s Lake Forest Park “Towne Centre” now (my old neighborhood) and I used to bike the other way (down the Burke to Matthews or Gasworks). Good times.

      1. Lake City Way is kind of a special case, as it’s a state highway and WSDOT has jurisdiction rather than SDOT. It’s going to be hard to get any kind of bike infrastructure for that road out of Olympia.

  8. As far as I know, there are no plans for any substantial transit, pedestrian or bike improvements planned for Lake City. In fact, the planning brains seem to think running transit through Northgate, which doubles the commute time from Lake City, is the smart thing to do. It will take the only perk of Lake City away – namely a 19 minute ride on the 522 downtown.

    The only hope I can see as far as Ped and bike is to get some pennies for Greenways, as sidewalks will never come in my or my son’s lifetimes. I have been sketching out some possible routes in my head – 39th/40th Ave and 135th St seem to have promise, though I don’t know what kind of push-back you would get from car-centric neighbors.

    Transit-wise, a surface train, which would be a spur off of Roosevelt station, surfacing around 80th in the middle of LCW and running all the way to Bothell seems like a comparatively cheap way to go. Again, it will never happen in my lifetime.

    1. Your 19 travel time from Lake City to downtown is based on several faulty assumptions and is not realistic, for example, you are assuming:
      1) You live right next to the bus stop at 125th and Lake City Way.
      2) No wait time – the bus shows up immediately when you arrive at the stop.
      3) There is no traffic on either Lake City Way or I-5. In reality, I-5 is often congested, even during non-rush hour.
      4) No lines of cars to wait through at the exit ramp going into downtown (there often is)
      5) You are getting off at the very first stop downtown (6th and Union) and your destination is right there.

      In reality, none of these assumptions are very realistic. If we factor in an additional 5 minutes to walk to the bus stop in Lake City, 5 minutes of wait time, 5 minutes of traffic congestion on I-5, 5 minutes of riding through downtown streets, and 5 minutes of walking from the bus stop downtown to your final destination, you’re 20 minute commute has suddenly turned into a 45 minute commute.

      Furthermore, the non-stop segment from Lake City to downtown comes at a price of making every destination on the way to downtown difficult to get to. Travel to the U-district is a milk run and travel to anywhere else in north Seattle is an hour-long trek in the form of a milk run followed by a transfer to another milk run.

      Now, let’s compare this with Link, once it’s built out to Northgate. Assuming the 522 were truncated at Northgate and ran non-stop from Lake City to Northgate, Google Maps is giving me a 7 minute drive time. So, we calculate:

      5 minutes (walking to the bus stop)
      + 5 minutes (waiting for the bus)
      + 7 minutes (riding bus to Northgate)
      + 5 minutes (waiting for the train)
      + 15 minutes (riding the train to downtown)
      + 5 minutes (walking from downtown tunnel stop to final destination)
      = 42 minutes, 3 minutes faster than talking the 522 today. Plus, you get improved reliability, much better frequency and span, and vastly improved access to destinations along the way. And when Link extends north to Shoreline and Lynnwood, you will finally get decent service there too.

    2. Who said the 522’s going to be rerouted to Northgate? ST seems reluctant to truncate anything that’s not directly on the light rail route. We won’t hear about bus routings until 2018 or so, so don’t assume that no news means there won’t be any changes.

      If the 130th station is built, it would make a beautiful truncation point for the 522. It would avoid the Northgate traffic, so travel time from Lake City to downtown or even Northgate would be roughly the same as now, and it would add all-day express service between Lake City and UW.

      ST3 will have to contain something for North King. The Everett extension will all be in Snohomish’s hands. So Lake City will just have to compete with 45th and Ballard-downtown. It could be built after them, or they could all be incorporated into one line. I won’t get into whether it should meet Central Link at Roosevelt or Brooklyn or Northgate or somewhere else; it’s too early to worry about that.

    3. It’s not ideal, but there’s a bus running every 15 minutes to a local transit hub (Northgate Transit Center), which will have a Link stop eventually. That’s better than most of the city, transit-wise.

      We have to leverage the frequent service we’ve got, because getting more is unlikely.

      1. Please be on the bus by 6:15pm weekdays or 5:14pm Saturdays, or your 15 minutes drops to 30 minutes (#41). It’s not “every 15 minutes” unless it’s really every 15 minutes, which the 49 can claim but not the 41.

        Curiously, there’s even less service peak (20 min AM inbound) than midday, because the 41 is inexplicably truncated at 5th/125th for some runs. Perhaps there’s a peak-only route I’m unaware of that compensates for this.

      2. but between Lake City and Northgate Transit Center, there’s also the 75, which IIRC is every 15 minutes for three hours in the morning and another three in the afternoon, and 25-30 min most of the rest of the day. Combined with the 41 that’s not too bad.

        The problem there is that the travel between LC and N’gate is quite slow, particularly on the 75–Northgate Way is a zoo, and more so for the six weeks around the holidays–to the point where a transfer to the 522 (if it were arriving soon) was as fast as transferring to the 41 at NGTC. I never used to risk the wait in LC before OneBusAway, but now you can make that decision. I actually gave it up as a bad deal and just drove to NGTC most of the time, since I worked early enough to be assured of a parking space.

        Plans for HCT through LC should start in the vicinity of the U District and more or less follow the route of the 72, not go crosstown to N’gate–particularly not on N’gate Way. A 125th/130th crosstown to a station at 130th would not be a horrible alternative, though not as direct. ST has shown on their HCT planning documents a line from the NE turning west at 145th–which is an absolutely horrible idea as it bypasses LC completely.

        My personal preference is a rail line from Bothell through LC thence to the U District via either U Village or Roosevelt, thence on 45th through Wallingford via the “Ballard Spur.” :)

  9. I’ve lived car-free in Lake City for most of 3 years now. I’m a student at UW (65, 75, 72, 372) and my boyfriend works in Woodinville (372, 522). Over the summer I’ve interned once out of the state, but in downtown and Fremont (took a bus to UW and biked or downtown and transferred). There’s a good deal of restaurants within walking distance, and the Fred Meyer is certainly nice for many shopping needs. With the 41 and 75 Northgate is pretty accessible as well. As the author mentions the neighborhood is a bit colorful, some may be concerned walking alone at night but I’ve never been too worried.

  10. One significant problem with living car-free in Lake City today is that the buses going through there are designed to get you to downtown, the U-district, and Northgate, and almost nowhere else.

    Because the 522 has not a single stop between Lake City and downtown, you’re looking at an hour-plus bus ride to get from Lake City to neighborhoods such as Fremont, Roosevelt, Green Lake, and Wallingford. The 75 is ok if you’re going to Northgate Mall (although the 1/2-hourly headway is not great), but because of their ridiculous detour into the transit center (including the 5-minute layover), getting from anywhere east of Northgate to anywhere west of Northgate on a bus just takes forever. I used to live on Meridian Ave. right next to a #75 stop and it was actually faster to walk 1/2 mile to 5th and Northgate and board the 75 there, than to catch the same 75 bus right in front on my apartment.

    And I’m not going to get started on how long it takes to get from Lake City to anywhere on the Eastside, except to say that travel time from 125th and Lake City Way to downtown Redmond is no faster by bus than biking all 16 miles down the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River trails.

    Travel to the U-district should at least, in theory, be decent with the combined headways of 65, 72, and 75 available. However, the actual schedule of these routes (at least on weekends, maybe weekdays are better), calls for three buses going back-to-back-back every 30 minutes.

    And the lack of cross-town bus routes make Shoreline and Lynnwood at least an hour away by bus. Shoreline, at least, you could probably do better by jogging.

    Bottom line: we need better connectivity between Lake City and the surrounding neighborhoods and we need a shift in thinking towards a bus to travel north, south, east, or west, rather than just a bus to go downtown.

    1. +1 for all of the above. The detour to NSCC certainly doesn’t help the 75 for anyone travelling through either.

    2. “Because the 522 has not a single stop between Lake City and downtown, you’re looking at an hour-plus bus ride to get from Lake City to neighborhoods such as Fremont, Roosevelt, Green Lake, and Wallingford.”

      That’s not the 522’s fault. It’s not designed to take you to Fremont, Roosevelt, etc. It’s designed to be the the trunk route for northeast Seattle. Lake City does need better connections to 65th/45th, but not by destroying the 522 as an express. A better idea would be to straighten out the 72 (to 15th and Lake City Way) and increase its frequency to 15 minutes.

      Although I’m beginning to really like the idea of truncating the 522 at a 130th Link station someday. That would give all-day service to 45th, 65th, and Northgate without losing its express-ness.

      1. I would really appreciate *one* more stop on the 522, either Roosevelt or I-5/45th St. That would have a negligible impact on travel time for thru-riders and vastly improve access to Lake City and beyond from Roosevelt, the U-district, and Wallingford, especially on weekends where the 372 bus isn’t running.

        I like your suggestions to make the 72 run more frequently, but in today’s budget environment, I don’t see the resources to make that happen. Maybe if we truncate the 72 at Link in 2016, we have use the savings then to improve frequency.

    3. “the actual schedule of these routes…calls for three buses going back-to-back-back every 30 minutes.”

      I agree – this is one of the most frustrating parts of being a UW student living in Lake City. The 372 is great during the day, but my night classes have been rough. I’ve had my share of 20-minute waits, which never used to bother me when I was single, but they are torture now.

      I wonder if Metro can do anything to tweak these schedules a little bit, or if there are reasons these buses have to run when the do?

      1. I vaguely remember some long term restructuring plan that called for boosting the operating hours of the 372 at the expense of some other adjacent routes.

        In the meantime, though, it might be worth bypassing the bus and biking down either 35th Ave. or the Burke-Gilman trail instead.

      2. I’ve heard it’s on the table for the North Link reorganization: replacing the 72 and 73 with all-day service on the 372 and 373. There are ideas in the air at Metro; we just don’t know which ones will land or how they’ll be modified. For instance, I expect Ravenna Ave will demand a milk run if the 72 is eliminated, but who knows where it would go or what route it would be joined to. We should hear something concrete in 2018 or 2019.

  11. This week I’ve been living in your Nightmare…Fort Collins, CO.

    It’s a transit-free environment. An integration of apartment complexes, with wide courtyards, malls, big houses in big developments, malls, and…malls.

    Cars are everywhere. I sat outside an ice cream store, on a nice sunny plaza…facing…a road with traffic!

    Cars are essential here. You get in your car and you dart to destinations. The streets are wide — 3 or 4 lanes in ordinary neighborhoods — and free flooring.

    It is the real application of the 2-D technology of cars. Surrounding Fort Collins is the beauty of nature…the Front Range of Colorado. The grid gives way to mountain roads and nature.

    It’s fun to visit in a car culture in a place designed for cars and businesses that serve them in a 21st century infrastructure.

    1. I saw Bailoville in Silicon Valley last week, at the Santa Clara Convention Center. It felt like hell. Five miles of office parks on superblocks stretching almost to downtown San Jose. The nearest restaurant, an isolated IHOP, was a 12-minute walk away. The nearest supermarket was over two miles away; I didn’t even bother looking for it. There was a strip mall across from the IHOP, but it was only open for the 9-5 crowd.

      Luckily there’s both a light rail and a commuter rail station there. But the light rail drops to half hourly evenings/Sundays, and it takes half an hour to get to anywhere interesting. If I worked in one of those office parks, I imagine I’d have to live half an hour away to find any housing on a transit line.

      The LR seems to have lower ridership than Link. There are six-lane boulevards and/or expressways every mile, like I’ve seen in Dallas. Curiously, traffic seems light even at rush hour. I suppose that means the wide boulevards are doing their job (or that all the traffic is on the expressways/freeways). The office parks in Santa Clara go up to ten stories, while the ones in San Jose stick to 1-2 stories. Going west on the LR toward Mountain View, things got more normal after a couple stops, with more supermarkets and taller buildings, and a nice historic-looking restaurant row in downtown Mountain View.

      I asked my parents about it; they had lived in the area in the 60s and early 70s. They said it was all orchards, then houses replaced the orchards, then office parks must have replaced the houses. It’s built low-rise — even in downtown San Jose — because people didn’t want anything city-like; they wanted the “town-and-country” look as it was called. My relatives said they didn’t remember much city planning down there; not like they encountered when they moved up here to Bellevue. The city planned parks and things, but there wasn’t much discussion about what buildings should be like or where they should be; they pretty much just gave the developers free reign.

      The one thing that looks easy in Silicon Valley is bicycling. It’s flat everywhere, with bicycle lanes on many of the boulevards, and a north-south trail that apparently goes north to Oakland and south to south San Jose and connects to other trails. There were 4-5 bikes in the LR cars.

      1. Similarly in Fort Collins, which is considered one of the “bicycle capitals” of the US. Bicycles are everywhere…from Colorado State University out into the remote areas. I just drove around Horsetooth Reservoir which is a few short miles away from the main street of College Avenue, and there were bicyclists everywhere up and down the hills. However, east of College, it’s completely flat and great for the casual bicyclist. Every street, even a suburban street, has a painted bike lane on either side of the road!

        While driving around, I guess I misspoke saying it is transit-free — as I saw two buses. Also, one oddity is that one of the main N-S freightlines goes right through the Old Town of Collins…so every day these giant diesels plow right through the shopping area.

        The good news is that the one thing this area could use — a Sounder commuter rail to Denver, Colorado Springs — could utilize this convenient track.

        Still the message is that when you have the facility to build in two directions, and you have a criss-cross pattern of heavy wide streets and local smaller streets and cul-de-sacs, you can avoid the freeway bottlenecks of everyone cramming their car into one central “down town”.

    2. I don’t understand what your new vocabulary of 2D cars means, or your ambiguous statements about grids. To me, a grid is the most efficient network, at least in urban areas. It’s easy to find things in Manhattan and more like a maze in London. In rural areas diagonal roads between towns may make more sense, but the worst arrangement is random roads, in both an urban and rural context. Cul-de-sac areas are essentially random roads, which are even more aggrevating in urban neighborhoods than in the countryside.

    3. John, that does sound like a nightmare! Then again, you don’t have to go to Colorado for that. I lived in Snohomish County for a year, and I really don’t think it was much better than the town you’re describing. A maze of cul-de-sacs, 2 miles to the nearest anything.

  12. Lake City has some promise, I believe. It has existing frequent transit service, an old enough commercial strip such that there is actually quite a bit of sidewalk retail frontage, Rental prices there are currently flirting with my target price – one of the 2 most affordable transit-friendly neighborhoods in the city. Competition for those rentals is still high, but if more units are built things could get better.

  13. I live in Pinehurst between LC & N’gate. I haven’t used a car in 15 years. I walk about .65 mile (13) blocks to the LC Library, few blocks farther to pick up Bartell loss leaders, once a week to Fred Meyer (about 1 mile). When younger I’d walk back home with 18 lb pack of groceries. Now I take #72 or 41 to cut the time & strain on my back. The 306/312 gets me downtown in less than 25 minutes, but I often use the 41. Like the #72, the #73 is only about 8 blocks from home and at times it works out better. I can walk to a hardware or private yoga studio or a brew-it-yourself in LC. I used to bike to N’gate Grouphealth and the N’gate Library or Community Center to use the fitness room. I used to walk about 1.1 miles to Meadowbrook Community Center to swim or take a yoga or pilates class. I walk to the Pinehusrt Safeway .75 mile or LC Starbucks or library for free wifi. To church I take the # 65. There are parks along Thornton Creek and tributaries. I’ve seen salmon fingerlings, a turtle, falcons, a blue heron, eagles, hummingbirds, raccoons, opossums (some wildlife in my own backyard). So tell me again why I need a car?

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